The Lost Apothecary by Sarah Penner

In eighteenth century London, a secret Apothecary Shop lends a hand to those in need in a very unusual way… women with a cheating spouse just need to seek out Nella who will give these ladies a little something something to make sure they never stray again… or breath for that matter…
When a young girl names Eliza comes to the shop, she is looking for more than a cure, she wants to learn the art of potions, and while Nella feels that no good can come of this – she can not deny the strange connection she feels towards the girl. Unknowingly, together, they will make history.

In present time, Carolyn Parcewell finds herself in London experiencing her ten year anniversary – alone. After recently discovering her husband’s infidelity, she takes their planned trip anyway – looking for distance and time to sort through her feelings. Having a love of history, she finds herself frequenting the local library and researching information on an aged apothecary bottle she found in the river while taking a walk. Her research connects her to London’s unsolved murders and a chance to put her mind on something other than her own personal stuff. As Caroline continues her investigating, she uncovers a long forgotten mystery that will bind her to Nella and Eliza forever.

I love book maps!

The Lost Apothecary has a little bit of magic. A little bit of mystery. AND a whole lot of fun historical happenings. I loved the back and forth of early London and the secrets of the Apothecary and its mission to help wronged women (well… most of them anyway – I don’t want to go give too much away 😉 ) and then forward to Carolyn’s story as she stumbles on long-buried secrets that lead her to the history of this very Apothecary.

Sarah Penner’s debut novel is an engaging read that I found myself seeking out whenever I had the time. I was impressed with the nice flow of the two timelines, in particular when what was happening in eighteenth-century London, was what Carolyn was discovering with her research at the same time. Nice touch, Sarah.


Overall I feel the book is worth the attention it is getting. The Lost Apothecary made the New York Times best Seller’s list seven weeks in a row, debuting at #7. It is currently being translated into 30 languages.

If I had one tiny complaint, it would be that it wrapped up too quickly. I know all good things must come to an end but I was finishing this one on audio and all of a sudden ending credits were playing and I thought I had missed something. I actually went back to listen to the last chapter again. I guess I expected more. Of course, all will be forgiven if that just means there may be a follow up book 🙂

I read this for our June book club discussion and already am contemplating ideas of bottled “potions” and something…
a little magical.

Worth the read? You bet.

Check our Sarah Penner here.

8 thoughts on “The Lost Apothecary by Sarah Penner

  1. I like the premise of this book. I am not good with magical realism, but perhaps I could get past that for the rest of the story.

  2. Great review. It sounds like fun. A little magic, mystery, and London — what’s not to like?! I’ll check it out thanks.

  3. Thank God for the sky above you. Thank him for the sun, moon and stars. Thank him for the rain drops, for the birds, for the animals and the flowers. Thank him for the people in your life, both good and bad. But most of all thank him for this beautiful thing called life.

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